Tuesday, October 04, 2005

NHL celebrates opening night with historic 15-game slate

The National Hockey League opens its 2005-06 regular season Wednesday with 15 games, 30 clubs in action, dozens of storylines and 600 players in uniform in front of an expected quarter-million fans at sold-out arenas, marking the busiest playing date in the League's 88-year history. NHL teams had combined to play as many as 14 games on nine occasions, the most recent of which was Nov. 1, 2003.

It also marks the first time that all NHL clubs are in action on the schedule's opening night since 1928-29, when 10 clubs were featured. The last time all clubs in a major pro sports league played on the opening date of the schedule was in 1969, when the National Football League kicked off with all 16 NFL clubs and 10 AFL clubs participating.

Here are some fearless predictions for the Avalanche by people "in the know":
  • John Buccigross, ESPN: 9th in the Western Conference
  • Jim Kelley for ESPN: 9th in the Western Conference
  • Adrian Dater, The Denver Post: 7th in the Western Conference
  • Scott Wraight, SI.com: 13th overall in initial power rankings
  • Linesmaker.com: 20-1 odds to win the Stanley Cup
  • Canadian Press: Joel Quenneville as 1st coach fired, 3 teams headed downward
From what I can tell, these guys are only focusing on the negatives of losing Foote and Forsberg (who, by the way, has been injured for the majority of the last three seasons with the Avalanche, and last season with MoDo).

Here's why I disagree and think the Avalanche will finish no worse than 5th in the Western Conference:
  1. Their head coach has a Stanley Cup ring.
  2. Their goaltender's name is on the Stanley Cup.
  3. Rob Blake, Norris Trophy winner, All-Star.
  4. Joe Sakic, Hart Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy winner, All-Star.
  5. Milan Hejduk, Maurice Richard Trophy winner, All-Star.
  6. Alex Tanguay, career high 79 points last season, #1 star with 2 goals in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the second best goalie of all time.
  7. New addition Andrew Brunette, 49 points last season under Lemaire's defense-first system.
  8. New addition Pierre Turgeon reunited with coach Quenneville under whom he scored 66 points in 55 games of clutch-and-grab hockey, last season notched his 16th consecutive season of 40+ points.
  9. Leadership: one current, and three previous NHL captains: Joe Sakic, Rob Blake, Pierre Turgeon, and Steve Konowalchuk - captain of the Capitals when they went to the Stanley Cup Finals.
  10. Karlis Skrastins, second only to Blake last season in Time-on-Ice minutes - ahead of Foote(3) and Sakic(4).
  11. John Michael-Liles, Team USA defenseman.
  12. No more team/press soap opera that is, "No offense to you guys BUT is Peter ready to play again? Will he be back? Will he? Will he? Please say he's ready..!"
Stay tuned hockey fans! It will be interesting!


darprice said...

Ahhh, tis truly nice to have hockey back. I watched my team dismantle the Blues and then got to see them do it again the next night, but in person that time. It wasn't until the season started that I truly realized just how addicted I am and how much I missed the game. Welcome back boys...but I do expect to see some of that cap room reflected in the ticket prices.

SM said...

How can anyone - SI included really know what the power rankings are? They picked the Calgary Flames and Philadelphia Flyers as 1 and 2 repectivly..How many times have we seen a team go to the cup finals, not win (Calgary) and then burn out the following season (Mind you now, 2 seasons) The Ducks, Panthers, Hurricanes, Capitals just to mention a recent few..Really the only teams that have been there every year are..

1. Detroit
2. Colorado
3. Ottawa
4. Toronto
5. Philladelphia
6. New Jersey

And right now, based on early returns, the Leafs are the only team on that list that won't make the playoffs. Everyone else either had minimal losses in players or have added depth and youth

It comes down to goaltending now, plain and simple to me..Especially in this new era of sneezing in goals. If you look at the top goalies of 2 years ago - alot of those teams now have great players behind them..(Thank You CBA


Those are the teams I expect to see come playoff time that aren't normally seen contending for the cup.

Its already been fun to watch.